With 100% of Royal College Manchester's interns (and 60% of the graduating class as a whole) leaving with work of some kind, we know what it takes to help young people with complex learning and communication disabilities find work.
The benefits are undeniable. Young people with work placements are able to earn some money. Their time at work offers them an interesting activity where they know what to expect and can get to know their co-workers. They are able to make a contribution - to the success of their team, their company or their own, self-owned, micro-enterprise - and feel pride in what they achieve. One of our former students joined the college knowing that he wanted a job - he had always been very interested in watching different people at work, whether they were onsite or in the local community. He graduated with an offer of part-time hours in a facilities maintenance team, helping to clean, recycle, set up offices and garden.
Others might not have been encouraged to think much about work before but their achievements are no less impressive. One young man left the college having secured not one but three different offers of part-time work, including a job at the grounds of his favourite football team! Another young woman made several key decisions about where she wanted to live and what kind of work she wanted to do (even communicating which skills she knew she would need to learn!) and, as a result, went on to sell produce at a market.
Finding opportunities for work can be tricky. Sometimes you have to make them yourself. That's why several of our students have decided to become self-employed, with business models that allow them to arrange their schedules and workloads as needed - with careers as varied as card-making, ironing clothes and recycling. Self-employment can be particularly useful for young people who would struggle with a less flexible schedule such as people trying to manage health conditions.
Other employment options that can be available to people with learning disabilities might involve any number of practical tasks - caring for animals, gardening or cleaning. But they aren’t the only possibilities: one young woman took on an extensive data entry task, correctly formatting the addresses in a local business’ customer database. People with limited literacy may still excel at other office tasks like our students: delivering mail to different departments, collecting and sorting leaflets by type, filling envelopes, copying or shredding confidential information. While these tasks may not represent a full-time role, they might be suitable for ‘job carving’, a way of tailoring tasks around the abilities of a particular worker.